Even after living here for three and a half years our master bedroom still just does not feel like a space that suits us. It’s got a lot going for it. It’s a nice size with (literally) a dozen windows and an assortment of furniture that is all great individually, but somehow it’s not all working together.
I saw a photo recently of a four-poster bed that had been painted a bold color and felt inspired. Is this maybe what the room is missing?
I’m tempted. Really tempted. My bed is not a precious heirloom or even vintage. I bought it from Craigslist for $200 and it’s not in great condition. If I did paint it I’d probably lean toward something like the green in the last photo above. Not only have I been really into kelly green lately, but I think also it would make a nice contrast to the blue dresser and armoire in the room (which I wouldn’t be opposed to painting a more neutral tone if it gets too crazy in there). And you know what else I could do? I could upholster the headboard. Maybe even in a similar shade of green for some cool tone-on-tone action. Here’s the thing: should I paint the bed in place with a small brush and roller, or disassemble it and haul the whole thing to my sister’s place 45 minutes away to borrow her paint sprayer? The sprayer would probably lend a smoother result, but am I really interested in that sort of endeavor at this point in my life? I mean, I have a toddler and a job. Who am I trying to impress? If I manage to get this thing painted at all it will be considered an accomplishment.
I’ve been working on this table on and off for nearly two months and am proud to say that with some help from a professional metalsmith I can finally call it done. It counts as DIY if someone I know did it, right? I considered sparing you the details of all my failed attempts to do it myself, but decided there was no sense in sugarcoating it. Let’s start with the two steps I actually got right. First, I bought an 18″ wood round at Lowe’s for under $10. I sanded it down a bit and then gave it one thin coat of white paint. I wanted the grain to show through for a whitewashed effect.
I also picked up a 10 foot copper pipe, eight endcaps, and a pipe cutter. I cut the pipe into four 28″ lengths. It was my first time using a pipe cutter but it was super easy. It didn’t come with any instructions so I YouTube’d it. You just mark where you want to cut, tighten the rotary blade against the pipe, and twist, tightening periodically as you go. I honestly don’t remember how much I spent on these supplies but I feel like it was under $30.
I made a series of complicated marks that I didn’t really understand to try to figure out where to attach my four legs. My dream was to have a tripod table, but I couldn’t figure out how to cut and attach the pipes at an angle so my plan was to go four-legged.
But it didn’t matter because my plan to attach the pipe caps with screws and then slip the legs into them didn’t work anyway. I couldn’t get the caps to attach securely. So then I used a template (found here) to drill angled holes for my pipes using a spade bit. I couldn’t find a bit that was the exact outside diameter of the 3/4″ pipe and my table wasn’t thick enough to drill deep holes anyway, so my plan was to just create the angle with the drill bit and then attach the caps with epoxy, slipping the pipes into them after the epoxy had cured.
It didn’t work. My table was crooked.
So then I went back to the four-leg approach, trying this time to attach the caps with epoxy instead of screws.
I didn’t even snap a photo of the outcome. It was that bad. At this point I finally took my friend Cassie’s husband Nic up on the offer he’d made weeks ago to help. He’s a professional metalsmith who actually enjoys this kind of thing. On Saturday we went to the shop that he shares with a couple of friends (also professionals). It was like a giant, metal-filled man cave. This was baby Olive’s first trip to the shop! She seemed to like it.
Check out this welding cart. The other two guys at the shop do a lot of artsy stuff, while Nic is more into functional pieces.
This is Nic’s corner of the whole place. He maintains that he does not have a hoarding problem.
He said he could make the tripod idea work and I was thrilled. He inserted a metal rod into each of the three pipes and screwed it into place.
Then he used a compass to mark the diameter of the tabletop and used some kind of math to figure out how to space the legs equally around the perimeter. He leaned the legs together into a tripod shape, placed a square metal plate on top, checked that it was level, and then broke out the torch to weld it all together. He made me put on a mask just to take this photo.
He attached the metal plate to the underside of the table, popped a copper cap onto the bottom of each leg and bam, he was done! It actually took a couple of hours but I got to hang out with Cassie and Olive the whole time so it was fun.
Back home, I gently sanded the printed letters and numbers from the pipes and gave them a light polish with some ketchup (a trick I gleaned from that post linked above with the drilling template). I wanted to keep some of the patina the metal had gotten from sitting on my porch for two months.
It’s a happy accident that it ended up almost the exact same height as the other nightstand. I don’t feel like my bed is that tall but it’s nearly impossible to find nightstands that aren’t super short.
It’s really hard to get a good photograph of our room, so I took this panoramic shot with my iPhone to give you an idea of the layout. I didn’t think I would like having the bed at an angle like this but it’s actually working out really well.
I can’t get over what a great job Nic did on the table. It’s super sturdy and exactly what I’d imagined. If you’re local and need some metal work done let me know and I can put you in touch with him. He’s always taking on side jobs for fun. His specialty is these awesome firepits with fleur-de-lis cutouts that he makes around the holidays for $400 each. I can’t wait to break out the s’mores in their backyard as soon as it gets a little colder!
Update: here’s a picture of one of Nic’s firepits. He says: “The bottom has a trap door, for easy clean out, and I make the legs differently now. It comes with a fire poker, clean out tool, and a galvanized pail to clean out the ashes.”
I distinctly remember sitting in trigonometry class and thinking snidely that it was a complete waste of my time. It was at the height of my “teenage rebellion” and I was probably wishing I’d skipped school that day to hang out with my boyfriend (who, of course, had already gotten his GED in juvie. Shout out to Brad if you’re reading this!). Well, eleven years later I find myself watching youtube videos on how to use cosin in the name of decorating. It all started out when I saw this table online and thought I could recreate something similar, but with the proportions of a nightstand instead of a coffee table:
I was able to find a tabletop, copper pipe, and elbow fittings with no problems, but the piece in the middle where they all come together eluded me. So then I thought I would make one like this instead:
But that would require me to go back to the store for y-fittings and more pipe, as the ten foot length that I bought wouldn’t be enough to make four 27″ legs and have enough left over for the stretchers. So then I thought I would do this:
A three-legged table with angled legs coming out from the center. I kind of liked the modern feel of it and figured it wouldn’t be too difficult. This is where the trigonometry comes in–I needed to figure out at what angle to cut the legs and how long to make them. Feel free to LOL at my work below if you are actually a math person.
I was so proud of myself for figuring out that I wanted a 30° angle between the leg and the table, only to have my spirit crushed when I realized I had no idea what that meant for cutting the pipe. So I texted my math-whiz friend Sarah (note to all of my other friends who are good at math–you are all good at math. Please don’t be hurt that I didn’t text you instead) and I think she was kind of confused by the diagrams I kept sending her. She said things like, “Umm…what are the things in that picture?” And then she drew a diagram of her own but she still didn’t know the answer. She eventually just suggested I make something like this instead, cutting the legs at just a 15° angle:
Yes, that does look quite a bit easier. I think I’ll do that, I guess? This is where you guys come in. How should I attach the legs to the table? Am I making this more complicated than it needs to be? Between this and some coding issues on my blog math and science are giving me quite the beating this week. Yesterday I felt like I’d been working hard through Jack’s entire afternoon nap, then I looked up and realized the house was in shambles and I had accomplished absolutely nothing. Trigonometry and CSS for the win. I don’t know what I’d do without all the technically-inclined folks in my life helping me out!
I have been searching high and low for another nightstand for my bedroom. I like the Ikea one alright, but I’m not in love with it enough to get a matching pair. I love the look of mismatched nightstands anyway. The problem is that everything out there is so short! I need something that’s at least two feet tall to be even with the top of my mattress and most nightstands out there seem to fall between 18 and 22 inches. I visited several thrift stores while we were in Austin and even checked craigslist daily, but I couldn’t find anything that fit the bill. Finally, on the ride home, I got the idea that maybe I could DIY something. Below are my favorite ideas from Pinterest/the interwebs:
I would love love love to have a stump table but it seems kind of labor intensive. I’ve seen a house about a mile from here with a pine tree that’s been chopped up and waiting on the curb for weeks so I could maybe I could get a log/stump from there, but then I’d have to get it home, cut it down to the proper size, and dry it out, all before doing whatever finishing needs to be done to make it a functional piece of furniture. And while I am in love with the hourglass shape of this accent table from Target, I’m not sure the vinyl strips used to create a similar silhouette in the table pictured above are a good choice for a house with cats. That leaves us with pipes! And while I’m still working out the details I’ll go ahead and confess that as soon as we got back to Baton Rouge I ran to Lowe’s and bought some copper plumbing pipe. I really wanted brass but I guess they only use brass for fittings? I’m so excited to get going on my new nightstand as soon as I can find the time. Going on vacation always leaves me so discombobulated upon return! How is the house such a mess when we haven’t even been home? Those dang cats have been getting into mischief, I’m sure of it.